Google Glass continues to get more useful with each update and application written for it.
Even though the smartphone-like device that you wear on your head like glasses is not yet available for the general public to buy, Google is slowly rolling Glass out to new users through invitations from existing users. I can see people embracing the technology more and more with each improvement.
I cheered in December when Google announced it had finally developed a MyGlass app for iOS, which welcomed Apple iPhone users to the full use of Glass that Android users have enjoyed all along.
So with the new app, I have been enjoying the ability to get turn-by-turn directions to a location on Glass and hearing them projected through the device (phrases like “turn right at the next intersection.)” Thanks to the iPhone app, I also have been able to show people what I am seeing on Glass through what Google calls “screencasts.”
But in putting Glass back on my head to try out the iPhone app, I also have found newer applications and updates that have improved the device. These have given it the potential to become part of our regular lives in the future — if we were to commit to wearing our technology on our faces.
A hardware update announced in October let early Glass users, known as Explorers, swap out their old Glass for a new one that will allow for prescription frames. It also included an earbud for better phone conversations.
And now when I say “ok glass” to launch commands by voice activation, the list of choices I have is much more extensive than when I first I got the device in June. Some of the choices are due to third-party applications that I’ve installed; others have come with Google’s own updates, but they include:
“Take a picture,” “record a video,” “get directions to,” “send a message to,” “make a call to,” “make a video call to,” “start a round of golf,” “start a timer,” “record a recipe,” “start a stopwatch,” “listen to” (music for Google Play Music subscribers), “show a compass,” “translate this” and “find a recipe.”
As always, you can still use Glass to post videos and photos to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and now even to Tumblr and WordPress.
But in addition to the turn-by-turn directions, here are some new things I’ve done with Glass lately and applications I’ve learned about:
•I launched a Google Hangout on Glass with my children from my youngest son’s basketball practice. I showed them what I was seeing #throughglass. Although for them the view was blurry projected to their iPod Touches, I could see their faces on my device. This technology will only get better.
•I have winked to take a photograph in addition to using voice commands and buttons.
•I took a photo of colors I liked in the real world and shared them with Sherwin-Williams’ ColorSnapGlass app, which created paint swatches based on those colors.
•I imagined playing a round of golf using the GolfSight by SkyDroid app. This app is a GPS range finder that gives you pin distance, course data and scoring information on Glass. It will even find nearby golf courses for you.
•I looked for signs in Spanish so they could be translated by the Word Lens for Glass by Quest Visual app. I didn’t find any in a quick search, but I see this app being useful for English speakers who don’t speak Portuguese, German, Italian, French or Spanish (all languages available in the app) and almost easier to use via Glass than a smartphone.
•The compass app I tried didn’t seem to be calibrated correctly but the stopwatch and timer worked fine.
•I played Glass Frogger by twitching and nodding my head to get the pixelated Frogger (’80s style) across the busy street and the river. Yes, this game is the real Frogger on Glass.
•I tried to listen to music, but then realized all my music is in the iTunes store and not on the Google Play Music store. Glass is all about Google, of course. I have also listened to a song and had Google tell me what it was and who was singing, like the Shazam and SoundHound apps for smartphones.
•I’ve gotten OKC Thunder scores, weather reports and lists of nearby attractions through Glass. Although, why a list of “14 photo spots nearby” includes Academy Sports and Citizens Bank of Edmond, I am not sure. I’ve envisioned going on a run using the Strava Run app to track it, but I ran out of time before deadline.
•I even broke Glass — the frame snapped in my purse in a weak spot, between the computer part and the part that holds it on your head. Thankfully, Google swapped it out with the new hardware upgrade.
•And now that I’m working downtown and parking in a garage every day, I would find apps like Glass Genie helpful. Among an assortment of other features, like making lists, it allows you to “pin” your parking spot on Glass when you park — so you can find your car later. Others have adapted it for niche uses, which are where I think Glass will take root and grow: companies using it to scan and track packages, people who have found ways to develop it as an assisted medical technology device, hobbyists who need hands-free advice and assistance through Google Hangouts and more.
I still avoid wearing Google Glass much out in public, unless I have a specific reason for using it — to show it off or explain it to people, to take photos and videos from a unique perspective, to record a video interview or to test out these new features.
Seven months after picking it up, I still think of the device as new and unique, and I am self-conscious with Glass on my face, especially in Oklahoma.
I am much more comfortable if I can say I am wearing it for work, such as for research for this column, than if I am wearing it just because I can.
I think that feeling will change for many as more people buy it and find ways to integrate Glass into their own lives for specific reasons — for assistance with health care, connections with the outside world, support for a hobby, hands-free recording of unusual experiences, etc.
Glass is a great device that works exactly as Google designed it to, and it feels comfortable when it’s on your face. It requires a connection to a smartphone in order for most of its features to work, so sometimes it’s easier just to use the smartphone instead.
Explorers have envisioned uses that make it an important part of their own days and have developed apps to share their visions with the public.
And possibly one day, Glass and others like it will be so ubiquitous that we’ll feel more self-conscious without a Glasslike device on our faces than with one.